Page 3 of 3
The L: What do you think about the institution of marriage and Jane's conflict with her own thoughts of leaving?
JF: It's a difficult institution for many people and it's demanding and it's challenging and of course it can be rewarding and intimate. What Jane has to define all the time is: How much of herself is she giving up in order to keep Tim safe? I think that is actually germane in every moment of a marriage, but not necessarily at the foreground. You're always sort of making a negotiation between the sacrifices that you make and the gifts that you receive from your spouse. And that negotiation is very easy to get out of whack. But I think most people are interested in finding a way to get that negotiation back into a better balance.
The L: What did you want teenaged daughter Becka to add to the story?
JF: She's an integral part of the family. She too is struggling with something she can't quite comprehend, which is her weight problem. In many ways Becka and her father can't communicate with each other. Age and her particular teenage funk put them at opposite ends of the spectrum, but slowly they arrive at an understanding that may even be as deep as the one he has with his wife. I wanted to see how the relationship would play out if I continued to pursue it, and I felt a good deal of deference toward the character of Becka. She has great misfortune to some extent because her parents are consumed by this larger concern, but in some ways she emerges the happiest of the group. And so I was pleased in some way that in spite of all the turmoil that they have in their lives and go through they do release a happy daughter into the world.
The L: What is your favorite characteristic of Tim, Jane and Becka?
JF: I don't think I have any off hand. like asking me what my favorite characteristic of my wife and dad are. I'd name one thing and be forgetting about another thing. Tim I think rises to a level of nobility. Jane has real devotion. Becka reaches a real moment of acceptance of herself and of her parents.
The L: What was most challenging in writing this novel?
JF: All of the constraints that weren't there in my first novel: the chronology, the tight focus on few characters, the realistically rendered exteriors and the settings. And the establishment of the rules of the disease.
The L: Why do you write?
JF: I enjoy it more than anything else. It's the most fun I ever have.